September 22, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

I was just going through some old news, when a news item caught my attention. Seven years ago a young boy in America was interrogated by police, after he had ventured into reassembling the parts of a digital clock in a box and had brought it to school to show to his teachers. However, the teachers mistakenly thought it as a bomb and young Ahmed Muhammad, who was 14 years old then, was arrested, handcuffed and interrogated by police.

That was a nightmare for the young boy, who did have a special interest in technical things. He in fact was an electronic enthusiast, who always liked to make different electronic items. He was known as “Inventor Kid” in his school in Irving Texas. He was known to sort out the problems in electronic devices of his colleagues and friends. A kind and keen young lad did have the worst experience of his life on that particular day.

On that day, young Ahmed had brought that small box, of the size of a pencil case, with wires attached to different pieces. He said that he had re-assembled the parts of a digital clock, and he had brought it to school to show his teachers about what he did at home over the weekend. He had had brought his previous inventions to his school and they were liked and admired by his colleagues and teachers.

But 14th September 2015 was not a lucky day for the 14 years old lad. First he showed his box with wires and pieces of digital clock to his colleagues and a teacher. He showed his “clock” first to his engineering teacher, who liked it, but told him to keep the device inside his bag. Later on he showed the device to his English teacher too. But the English teacher thought that it resembled a bomb. The English teacher confiscated the “clock”, and reported him to the principal.

Things started going from bad to worse, from that moment, as the principal reported the matter to the police.

Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Mike Honda – US Congressman

He was taken out of his class by police and taken to another room for interrogation. Unfortunately during those days, the whole America and Europe were tackling terrorism phobia. Police interrogated the young boy for about an hour and a half, about his intentions for making that clock. The boy was not allowed to contact his family and later on he was taken out of the school, handcuffed, to a juvenile detention centre, where his finger prints and photos were taken and he was later released.

The news spread with great speed, and the general opinion developed everywhere, about how the case was handled by the local police and the school administration. The prevailing “islamophobia” mood in those days, took the issue to different dimensions. People argued that young Ahmed Muhammad had suffered and been dealt with  like that, just because he was a Muslim.

The story ended, when the parents of the young boy decided to leave America for good, since they had thought that their lives would be in danger. In the meantime the young boy also won a scholarship from a foundation in Qatar and the family left for Qatar later on.

After reading this old news item, I started thinking, about the feelings of that young boy, who had worked to invent something, and just wanted to show his achievement to his teacher, just to hear “well done” and a pat on the back from them. How shocked he would have been when he found himself at the receiving end, just because the teachers were under the strong influence of islamophobia. Later on the parents of the boy mentioned that the incident had put their son under much psychological stress.

Photo courtesy of Irving Police Department photo of Ahmed Mohamed clock

True that young Ahmed Muhammad would indeed never forget that nightmare, when he was interrogated by the police, considering him as a possible terrorist. The shock to that young boy of that age, and the experience he had been through, when police handcuffed him and did not allow him to contact his parents. That was indeed terrible.

But looking on the other positive side of the story, the incident, gave the Americans a chance to shake up and come out the influence of considering every second Muslim a possible terrorist. I personally feel that this particular incident had helped to bring a positive change in the overall public opinion of American public, regarding terrorism.





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